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William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 28 March 1889


I see that Appleton new Dic. of Amer. Biog. (six vols) has a very good article on W. W., with portraits.2 Coolish spring day to-day. My window hyacinths in fragrant bloom. (honey bunches)

W. S. K.  loc.02995.001.jpg

William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and the Boston Transcript; he also published biographies of Longfellow, Holmes, and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933], 336–337). Apparently Kennedy called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardener, 1896], 1). Though Kennedy was to become a fierce defender of Whitman, in his first published article he admitted reservations about the "coarse indecencies of language" and protested that Whitman's ideal of democracy was "too coarse and crude"; see The Californian, 3 (February 1881), 149–158. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This postal card is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | 328 Mickle N. Jersey. It is postmarked: BOSTON. MASS | MAR 28 | [illegible] | 1889; CAMDEN, N.J. | MAR | 29 | 10 AM | [illegible] | REC'D. [back]
  • 2. Andrew James Symington's article on Whitman appeared in volume six of Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography(1889); the article was later often used as the basis for many of Whitman's obituary notices. [back]
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